Universities have come a long way from the days of yore when they proclaimed that part of their mission was the search of truth. At the Heritage Foundation recently, Brooklyn College history professor KC Johnson noted that “in the last decade…the two most significant…rape hoaxes in the United States happened on college campuses” at Duke University and at the University of Virginia. The men’s lacrosse team was accused of rape at Duke, while at UVa, “to their great shame, the student body and student newspaper rushed to the side of the accusers.”
Neither of the accusers were raped, as they had claimed, but the accusations, nevertheless, left a black mark on the reputations of the accused. Today, this “reflects the preferred pedagogical outcome of the faculty” on America’s college campuses and whereby “campuses have widely embraced non-credible accusers.”
Also to blame is “the transformation of the university bureaucracy, which has expanded by leaps and bounds” and has led to the likes of the creation of “diversity staff” and “student life staff.” Johnson added, “These staffers increasingly in university procedures are the figures deciding sexual assault cases” along with “the creation of specially trained panels that decide sexual assault cases.” These staff members are “people who are ideologically predisposed to believe the accusers.” Additionally, “these figures who otherwise are very sympathetic to gender claims on campus… have become unsympathetic” to law and due process on college campuses.
Johnson said, “[It is] hard to imagine any institution…that would be more likely to believe any accuser in a sexual assault case” today. It is a shame that colleges today “would be less likely to afford meaningful due process” to the accused. He found the Left’s argument for more federal intervention in college sexual assault and rape cases “beyond believable” because the federal government is behind the Title IX changes. “University administrators admit, always on background, never publicly” that “we have no choice…[and are] unwilling accomplices.”
“The number of critics of the Obama administration is depressingly small,” said Johnson. An admitted Democrat and 2008 Obama donor, Johnson criticized the Obama administration, saying, “The administration deserves every criticism that it has received on this issue” of Title IX and mishandling of college sexual assault and rape cases. But, he added a caveat: “The denial of due process rights for accused students…is not the sole fault of the Obama administration,” but the “eager accomplices” found in universities. The media “has so failed the American public on this issue, a failure of coverage” on “procedures that the universities use.”
Many Americans do not know that “universities revised their policies in 2011 to go beyond the demands of the Obama administration to treat accused students unfairly.” Yale’s three-tiered system was one of those policies that was revised. Johnson said out of ten accused students, none were found not guilty, meaning “all ten were found guilty of sexual assault.” The accusers got to choose the type of hearing they wanted, no evidence could be admitted and the school claimed it would keep the hearings confidential.
What is the goal? Johnson said that their “goal [was] to achieve a resolution that is desired by the [victim]…to gain their sense of well-being.” The accused, when found guilty, now have “a reverse scarlet letter as a rapist” on the record. However, a case involving a Yale football quarterback athlete was leaked, so the confidentiality argument is moot. Johnson noted, “Yale has never investigated an accuser for filing a false report” to this very day. Yet, “Yale did that all on its own” and did not change their policies at the request of the Obama administration.
Johnson pointed out that the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill did the same in 2013, where “the accused student [could not] have a lawyer” and the “lawyer [could not] see the evidence” under a specific set of conditions: The lawyer has to be physically in the office at the college campus, cannot copy the evidence, and the lawyer can be restricted from asking questions in the hearing on behalf of their client. This is what Johnson called the “limit the lawyer’s power anyway” attitude.
Occidental College is another culprit, said Johnson. There were “60 allegations of sexual assault” at the college, where “small faculty and activists” pushed the “no always means no, yes may not always mean yes” rhetoric on their students and the administration. “This witch hunt atmosphere,” Johnson noted, “lasted for a year.” There was “nothing in Obama administration guidance” regarding instilling this type of atmosphere on college campuses. What is the result? The Occidental College student body was only 43% male, which was the “lowest percentage they’ve ever had” at their campus.
Amherst had a similarly disturbing case, where an “accuser did not turn over critical text messages” that corroborated her story. But, the lawyer for the accused student found the text messages of the accuser and those text messages disproved her accusation. However, Amherst’s response was that there was “no obligation to consider this evidence” in this case.
The “indifference to the truth” narrative and attitude isn’t pushed by the administration, Johnson believed, but the colleges and administrators are to blame.